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Poster: Old_NJ_Head_Zimmer Date: Nov 25, 2006 4:24am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

The "William Tell Bridge" is not actually part of "The Eleven". It is the ending coda of St. Stephen. This is why the dead never played it with a seperated Eleven.

At least that is one circulating theory.

Hunter even has the lyrics added to the end of Stephen not the beggining of Eleven in his Box of Rain song book.

It seems true enough, though I wonder why they never played it at the end of a Stephen into any other tune? My guess is it helped them get into the time signature.

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Poster: mcglone Date: Nov 25, 2006 4:48am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

'St Stephen' -

High green chilly winds and windy vines in loops around the
twining shafts of lavender, they're crawling to the sun

Underfoot the ground is patched with climbing arms of ivy
wrapped around the manzanita, stark and shiny in the breeze

Wonder who will water all the children of the garden when they
sigh about the barren lack of rain and droop so hungry 'neath the

William Tell has stretched his bow till it won't stretch no
furthermore and/or it may require a change that hasn't come

The Annotated "The Eleven"

An installment in The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics.
By David Dodd

Copyright notice

"The Eleven"
Words by Robert Hunter; music by Phil Lesh
Copyright Ice Nine Publishing; used by permission.

No more time to tell how
This is the season of what
Now is the time of returning
With thought jewels polished and gleaming
Now is the time past believing
The child has relinquished the reign
Now is the test of the boomerang
Tossed in the night of redeeming

Eight sided whispering hallelujah hatrack
Seven faced marble eye transitory dream doll
six proud walkers on jinglebell rainbow
Five men writing in fingers of gold
Four men tracking down the great white sperm whale
Three girls wait in a foreign dominion
Ride in the whale belly
Fade away in moonlight
Sink beneath the waters
to the coral sand below
Now is the time of returning

"The Eleven"

Recorded on Live Dead, as part of a four-part jam which includes "Dark Star," "Saint Stephen," "The Eleven," and "Lovelight." Also on Two From the Vault. According to Ihor Slabicky's discography, "The Eleven" was recorded for AOXOMOXOA, but not included on the album, where it would have followed "Saint Stephen."
Covered by Solar Circus on Juggling Suns.
After steady inclusion in the live repertoire from 1968 to 1970, "The Eleven" was dropped, to be revived once, at a concert in Golden Gate Park, on September 28, 1975.
The piece is famous among Deadheads as a vehicle for furious jamming in an odd meter, 11 beats to the bar, presenting a unity of title and musical content, though not particularly of lyric content, since Hunter's countdown begins with not eleven, but eight.
Counting songs are a long-standing tradition. Everyone knows "The Twelve Days of Christmas." But how about "Children, Go Where I Send Thee"?
And of course, counting-rhymes are a major part of the heritage of nursery rhymes carried on by Hunter and Barlow both. One of the best known is "A Gaping Wide-Mouthed Waddling Frog" (a cumulative verse, ending up with the following):
"Twelve huntsmen with horn and hounds,
Hunting over other men's ground;
Eleven ships sailing o'er the main,
Some bound for France and some for Spain;
Ten comets in the sky,
Some low and some high;
Nine peacocks in the air,
I wonder how they all came there,
I don't know, nor I don't care; [see "Ripple"]
Eight joiners in joiner's hall,
Working with their tools and all;
Seven lobsters in a dish,
As fresh as any heart could wish;
Six beetles against a wall,
Close by an old woman's apple-stall;
Five puppies by our dog Ball,
Who daily for their breakfast call;
Four horses stuck in a bog,
Three monkeys tied to a clog,
Two pudding ends would choke a dog,
With a gaping wide-mouthed waddling frog."
The counting portion of "The Eleven" was originally included by Hunter as part of "China Cat Sunflower". (See Conversations with the Dead, by David Gans, p. 24-25)

This note from a reader:

Subject: AGDL: The Eleven
Date: Thu, 15 Aug 96 12:00:27 EDT
From: Jon Baker
You note that the odd meter is "presenting a unity of title and musical content, though not particularly of lyrical content."

Might I suggest another allusion in the 11-beat meter? The most popular (only?) classical piece I can think of with an 11-beat measure is the Promenade theme from Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." Perhaps the lyrics' floating from one image to another alludes to this wandering from one picture to another.

Jonathan Baker

And another note from a reader:

From: Mitchell, Matthew []
Sent: Wednesday, May 07, 2003 8:21 AM
Subject: The Eleven

A rather obvious reference to the Eleven came to mind Sunday. If you read the Acts of the Apostles, you'll see "the Eleven" referred to frequently: they are of course the apostles who remained after Judas fled and Christ was crucified and rose from the dead. (Mathias was added to their number later)
The Eleven were the founders of the Christian church, and the Holy Spirit came over them at Pentecost (Acts 2). They began speaking in many different tongues, but everyone present understood the message in his or her own tongue. This can be seen as an undoing of the curse of Babel (Genesis 11), where God confused the languages and divided the people. See
This all seems quite familiar to those of us who listen to the GD. They came from different musical traditions, listened to and played with an even greater diversity of musicians, and turned it all into a musical whole that speaks in different ways to different people. Everyone understands the Dead in their own tongue.
Matt Mitchell

Six proud walkers

See Green Grow the Rushes, Ho!", for the line: "Six for the six proud walkers."
A reader, Joe Zomerfeld, notes that this phrase parallels the line in "China Cat Sunflower":
"Proud-walking jingle in the midnight sun"

great white sperm whale

An allusion to that greatest of all symbols in American Literature, Moby-Dick. Benet has this to say:
"The whale, a symbol too complex for any one definition, but perhaps representing knowledge of reality, is hunted by Ahab at the cost of his own dehumanization and the sacrifice of his crew."

ride in the whale belly

Neatly tying the already mentioned symbol of the great white whale to the story of Jonah in the Bible. Chapter 2 of the Book of Jonah "sees Jonah saved from drowning by a 'great fish' and praying to God from its belly. God responds and the fish vomits him out." (The Anchor Bible Dictionary.)

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Poster: AshesRising Date: Nov 25, 2006 6:09am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

mcglone! - how are you? This is some great stuff after being awake for the last two daze - helps the imagery flow together really well. I must admit that

I must admit the nursery rhyme is more befitting to the Grateful Dead crowd than to children. Nice trippy title:
"A Gaping Wide-Mouthed Waddling Frog" with some rather unique lyrics:

"Seven lobsters in a dish,/
As fresh as any heart could wish....."

Thanks a lot, -- Ashes

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Poster: AshesRising Date: Nov 25, 2006 5:40am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

"Old_NJ_Head_Zimmer:" - hey, thanks a lot for the heads-up on that. I'm not a musician but I read someplace that "The Eleven" is not only the name of the song but it's time timing(?) as well which is very difficult to play.

I wonder if they dropped it when Keith arrived for whatever reason musically? They dropped "Saint Stephen" when Brent arrived except for the three brief attempts in 1983.

I appreciate the feedback on the lyrics. -- Ashes

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 25, 2006 6:45am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

Hey all--great this all being together here and will have to copy it all out so I can loose it somewhere on my computer (Ashes? Arbuthnot?). Many thanks especially to Ian and Old NJ Head, and the rest. Glad to see it is well liked by the likes of you all.

Do folks recall the nice little insert with the Live album that had all the words written out?

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Poster: AshesRising Date: Nov 25, 2006 7:10am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

WT: - got my laughin' with the "lose it on my computer." -- thanks a lot. - no, I don't remember the insert - when I first discovered them in '78 I had a real hard time tracking down their lyrics - I would have remembered that insert since that crazy "countdown" lyrics were impossible to figure out just by listening. Great tune. - Ashes

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Poster: Old_NJ_Head_Zimmer Date: Nov 25, 2006 7:15am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

Remember the insert well and the great drawings!!!!

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Poster: jhender501 Date: Nov 25, 2006 8:53am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

If I could live my life over again, I would spend more time trying to understand music theory. I read these explanations for "The Eleven", etc and am somewhat baffled. Perhaps if I would have stuck with guitar lessons many years ago..Oh well..still love the music ;-)


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Poster: mcglone Date: Nov 25, 2006 10:07am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

hi jim,

The time signature (also known as "meter signature") is a notational device used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats are in each bar and what note value constitutes one beat. Time signatures indicate meter, but do not necessarily determine it.

Simple time signatures
common time: widely used in most forms of Western classical and popular music.
alla breve, cut time: used for marches and fast orchestral music. Frequently occurs in musical theater. Sometimes called "in 2".
rarer in music since 1600, although Brahms and other conservative composers used it occasionally.
used for polkas or marches
used for waltzes, minuets, scherzi, and country & western ballads.

Compound time signatures
double jigs, fast waltzes, marches and some rock music.
"compound triple time", used in triple ("slip") jigs, otherwise occurring rarely (The Sorcerer's Apprentice and The Ride of the Valkyries are some familiar examples)
classical music; also common in blues and doo-wop, also used more recently in rock music.

fyi, the eleven, as its name suggests, is in 11/8 time, mostly played as three beats of three followed by a beat of two ( but with all sorts of variations played against each other).

This post was modified by mcglone on 2006-11-25 18:07:42

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Poster: Liamfinnegan Date: Nov 25, 2006 12:45pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

THanks McGone for explaining the Eleven time signature- hence my 1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2 is the correct way of counting it out- I did not want to pretend I knew something I did not know-

If you personally have not heard apocalypse in 9/8 from suppers ready here it is:

after the flute solo it kicks in at 1:39 mark

This post was modified by Liamfinnegan on 2006-11-25 20:45:51

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 25, 2006 10:22am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

Way to go Ian--thanks, man. Though, I am hoping that there will not be a quiz (or anymore spell checks and grammarian analyses), it is nice to have a vague notion of what is going on.